In looking at the heavy-hitters of communication skills (interpersonal strengths that are so effective and crucial that I’ve deemed them relationship superpowers), Flexibility is at the top of the list.
Flexibility, when done well, is indicative of accepting influence. It demonstrates that you’re not stuck in rigid and fixed perspectives. Ones where you hold tightly to your own story and refuse to stretch yourself and try on your partner’s viewpoint.
According to the research of John Gottman, the ability to be flexible and accept influence is highly correlated with your relationship thriving. Alternatively, the tendency to not accept influence is one of the most significant predictors of divorce.
If you are a person who is skilled in Flexibility, you bring strengths to your relationships that will benefit you in all walks of life, because relationships require mutuality. People need two-person systems that are characterized by fairness and equal regard.
The only downside to having the power of Flexibility is that there might be times when you flex too much. There may also be times when you should not flex at all, but you do. Flexible people often engage in life from a generous stance, assuming that others value this critical relationship skill equally. The truth is, they don’t. Some people do not value having relationships that are mutual, fair, and just. Some people don’t play well with others and are more interested in having a power-over dynamic where you bend and they don’t.
If you are in a relationship where you are doing all the flexing, I’m going to encourage you to rethink your actions and ask yourself “”why am I being flexible and collaborative with someone who continues not to meet me in the middle or flex in turn?”
If you are the person not flexing, I’m going to nudge you to take a hard look at how well this behavior benefits you in the long term. Because though it may feel like you’re winning when your way dominates, you are essentially losing. If your partner does not win, you do not win. If your partner loses, you lose.